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7 Different Types of Garbage Disposal (Systems, Switches, and Mounts)

A close look at a garbage bin drawer with three receptacles for segregation.

A garbage disposal helps keep your kitchen more sanitary, alleviates odors, and reduces waste in landfills. You can obtain a garbage disposal with a 1/3 to a 1 horsepower motor to liquefy food waste safely. The disposal works with the kitchen sink, water line, and electric outlet in the kitchen.

Despite the wide range of garbage disposals available, most consumers choose a ¾ to 1 horsepower continuous feed garbage disposal. Of course, that does not mean you have to purchase that type, too. After reading this article, you will know which disposal type works best for your kitchen and lifestyle.

You might not know how useful garbage disposal is in your kitchen. It benefits the environment by reducing your trash output. It also reduces odors in your kitchen by eliminating food refuse. You also avoid food in your garbage bins which can help reduce rodents around your home.

Garbage disposal also provides a cost-effective way of reducing potential plumbing problems since you won’t clog the drain with food. It makes a good choice if you do not want to compost since it offers an ecological way to dispose of the food. Plus, disposal uses little electricity.

What is a garbage disposal?

The term garbage disposal refers to a bladed cutting device installed underneath a sink. When you place food in the disposal drain and switch it on, the blades cut the food scraps into small pieces, pulverizing them so they cannot clog the plumbing. Once pulverized, the food flows down the drain and into the sewer lines. The grinding process takes about 30 seconds and you need to run cold water down the disposal drain as it grinds, followed by 30 seconds of cold water after turning off the disposal.

A Brief History of Garbage Disposals

In 1927, inventor John Hammes created the garbage disposal. The device revolutionized kitchens and food disposal as it reduced food waste in the trash. This contributed to improving the environment by reducing refuse in landfills and improved public health by reducing the amount of food sitting in outdoor garbage bins – a major attraction for rodents.

The essential design of the garbage disposal has not changed much since its invention although the metals used have improved. The disposal still consists of a motor, grinding plate, and two teeth-like impellers that liquefy food waste so it can run down the drain. A perforated grinding ring, surrounds the motor. Water from the faucet above the disposal washes the liquid waste down the sink drain and into the drainpipe into the sewage system.

Types of Garbage Disposals

While the design has remained similar through the years, two variations exist batch feed and continuous feed. The simple to operate continuous feed type is more common. It features an open-mouth design that the user operates using an on/off wall switch.

A batch feed design requires you to place a lid covering on the disposal mouth before the user can turn on the device. The batch feed provides a safer operation since you cannot operate the disposal if the drain is open. This prevents the disposal from running while someone has their hand in the drain or when flatware or another object falls into the drain. These safer disposals are harder to find and cost a bit more.

Of the two types of garbage disposal systems, a continuous feed uses about a gallon of water per day, while the batch feed uses trace amounts of water. The batch feed systems require a larger motor and can handle smaller portions of food at a time.

Parts of the Garbage Disposal

You will have many options when shopping for garbage disposal. Knowing the various parts of their design and the options within those can help you choose the appropriate disposal.

  • Motor Size: Garbage disposals have various motor sizes, rated in horsepower (HP). Four standard sizes exist – the 1/3 HP, 1/2 HP, 3/4 HP, and 1 HP. Residential disposals typically use a 1/2 HP motor, but disposal with a 3/4 to 1 HP motor results in fewer food jams. Restaurants typically purchase a 1 HP motor system. You can also buy specialty systems for dishwashers, farmhouse sinks, or septic tanks.

The device may use an induction motor or a permanent magnet motor. The brands’ Kitchen Aid and InSinkErator both use induction motors, a type of high-speed electrical motor that results in constant flux via its connection to the rotor. It is slower to reach the motor’s maximum RPM that a permanent magnet (PM) motor.

A permanent magnet motor uses permanent magnets to produce efficient operation. The magnets produce an instant, consistent motor flux so the motor runs at maximum speed from the moment of activation.

The magnet motor works more effectively as disposal, especially in dealing with fibrous foods. The magnet motor is preferred for bathed feed trash disposals since it can grind the food in batches. These smaller, lighter motors clog less off.

You can find both motor types used in the leading brand of Waste King and InSinkErator. Waste King uses the magnet motors, while InSinkErator uses induction motors.

  • Grinding Chamber: The smaller the motor, the smaller the grinding chamber. The motor size limits torque and power. High-end and restaurant devices typically use a stainless steel grinding chamber for added durability and an easier cleaning process. These typically include a rubber baffle at the device’s mouth to clean the stainless steel chamber.
  • Auto-Reverse: Some units include an auto-reverse feature that helps alleviate jams by running the motor in the reverse direction. This dislodges the material from the grinding mechanism, thereby preventing an overload.
  • Metal or Plastic Mount: Two types of mount exist to connect the disposal to the sink – a plastic one and a metal one. When durability is paramount, choose a metal mount. Higher power disposals provide greater stability which reduces vibrations. Reduced vibrations create a quieter operation.

Other Considerations

Some disposals are noisier than others. They have not developed a standard sound rating for garbage disposals, but larger, higher HP disposals tend to run quieter. Devices that use a collar or of a batch feed design run quieter. The lid that covers the drain blocks part of the noise of operation.

Certain items you can only dispose of using the most powerful garbage disposals. This includes potatoes, tough vegetables such as celery, fruit pits, and apple cores plus oils, fats, and grease. The latter causes an unwanted build-up in the device and clog it.

Before you purchase a garbage disposal, check with the housing code office of your local planning department. Not all jurisdictions allow disposals. Your plumber or electrician may need to obtain a permit for the work and will not be able to if the city does not allow them.

Getting the Disposal Installed

Notice that it does not read, installing the disposal. That is because even if you know what you are doing as a hobbyist, it requires a long, 12-step process. You probably do not want to spend that kind of time installing a garbage disposal. Unless you are a plumber and have installed these devices previously, you should leave it to the pros.

Most professional plumbers install garbage disposals. They can easily mount the device in about an hour. You may also need an electrician to run the power line from the disposal to the wall. They may need to install a new outlet.

If you already have a garbage disposal and need to replace it, you will pay a little more for a plumber since this requires more time. They need to shut off the power to the kitchen and remove the old disposal before installing the new one. Expect the replacement process to require about three hours.

Where to Buy It

You obtain the widest selection at the best prices by shopping online. An e-commerce outlet like Amazon offers such a vast selection though that it can seem overwhelming. Currently, you would need to choose between 161 choices just on Amazon. We have taken the time to review some of the top brands and devices available. These reviews take into consideration the device’s design, warranty, customer experiences, and performance in tests. We provide you a convenient shopping link so you can easily peruse each device and determine which garbage disposal would work best for you.

Simply the Best: Waste King Legend Series 1 HP Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal

Waste King Legend Series 1 HP Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal with Power Cord - (L-8000)
Click image for more info

The Waste King Legend provides a 1 HP motor to grind up nearly any food you toss down its drain. It runs whisper quiet and uses durable parts. Its high-quality materials such as its stainless steel impellers save you money over the long-term since you need to replace it less often. Its design helps reduce jams and insulates the device so it is quiet.

Best for a Small Household: General Electric 1/3-Horsepower Continuous Feed Garbage Disposer

GE 1/3 HP Continuous Feed Garbage Disposer
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This small, 1/3-Horsepower continuous feed device works great for an individual or a couple, but not a large household. It runs quietly and produces enough power to handle most food waste. The durable manufacturing ensures lasting parts.

Most Affordable Choice: InSinkErator Badger 1

InSinkErator Garbage Disposal with Cord, Badger 1, 1/3 HP Continuous Feed
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You get a budget device from a trusted, respected brand. Like a badger, this device can chew up tough items. It contains galvanized internal parts that provide extreme durability. It needs to be fed harder items like bones and corn husks in small batches since its motor does not quickly break these down. It is not the loudest or the quietest.

Quiet Operation: KitchenAid Continuous Feed Disposal

A look at the KitchenAid Continuous Feed Disposal.

Source: KitchenAid

Choose this KitchenAid continuous feed device if you need quiet disposal that can handle large amounts of waste. From one of the leading manufacturers of kitchen appliances, it uses both its components and some from competitor InSinkErator. The result is a whisper-quiet device that provides safer operation by using a collar that blocks noise. You must remove the collar to insert more waste.

Most Powerful: InSinkErator Evolution Excel

InSinkErator Garbage Disposal, Evolution Excel, 1.0 HP Continuous Feed
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The InSinkErator Evolution Excel uses a three-stage grinder technology that combines a grind shear ring, a tri-action lug system, and an undercutter disk. This truly powerful disposal can even dispose of a whole potato, an unusual feat for any disposal.

Best Collaboration: KitchenAid Continuous Feed

InSinkErator Garbage Disposal + Air Switch + Cord, Evolution Essential XTR, 3/4 HP Continuous Feed
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This KitchenAid device also benefits from the great reputation of both InSinkErator and KitchenAid since it uses components of both. It also uses a three-stage grind system. The device is so tough it can handle ice cubes, but this is not recommended.

Best Small Disposal: General Electric 1/3 Horsepower Continuous Feed

A look at the General Electric 13 Horsepower Continuous Feed Disposal.

Source: GE Appliances Parts

This small 1/3 horsepower unit houses a 26.5 ounces grind chamber ideal for a single person. This General Electric device performs well according to customer feedback. It runs quietly and handles most food waste admirably.

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